Boy, August was full on. I became involved in a special project involving half a dozen full day visits to a South Auckland school teaching creative writing and a love of books and reading. I had my first visits in the last week of July and did the remaining visits over August. It has been a wonderful experience visiting at Panama Road School. The students are enthusiastic, affectionate and keen. I hope my love of books and writing has infected them.
I headed down to Wellington in the second week for the NZ Children's and Young Adults Book Awards. We announced and celebrated the wonderful winners on a wild, wet and windy Wellington Night at the Circa Theatre. Ten days later a host of international delegates descended on Auckland for the 2016 IBBY congress and for four days we discussed, celebrated and examined children's literature from around the world and it's crucial role in bridging cultural divides and bringing us all closer together. I got so much out of it. I attended sessions with the wonderful Australian Children's laureate Leigh Hobbes, and amazing novelist Markus Zusak. I chatted with writery friends from round the country and the world. I loved hearing about initiatives from other countries, about writers and illustrators I had not come across before, about the desire for more diversity in our children's literature
I was comforted by the fact we are all looking for solutions to the same issues. I loved the passion for the potential children's literature has to heal rifts, and to unite us globally. It was exciting to see aspects of our own country through the eyes of others. The whole thing was very thought provoking....and inspiring. And I found myself thinking about the possibility of attending future IBBY Congresses in other countries. On Sunday the IBBY Congress segued into the Storylines Festival and I got to take part in the Auckland Family Day. I met some lovely fans, made origami butterflies with lots of children and talked about turning ideas into books.
I imagined 2016 was going to be a quiet year with few engagements. I thought I would be twiddling my thumbs but the year just keeps on surprising me. In a few weeks I'm heading down to Christchurch to take part in a few events organised around our What Lies Beneath Exhibition of Children's Books by New Zealand authors themed around World War 1 and 2. This exhibition has been touring around New Zealand libraries and is spending the month of September in Christchurch. I'll post up more details soon. In November I am giving another workshop on Writing Picture Books with Selwyn Community Education. The days inbetween are slowly filling up too. Who knows what might happen next?